Ron Artest shot some baskets today, but he wasn’t cleared to practice or to play. He was listed as doubtful to play in Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, sitting out a fourth game after suffering a concussion on Christmas Night at home. The Lakers are 2-1 since Artest was injured, defeating the Kings in double-overtime last Saturday, losing to the Phoenix Suns on Monday and defeating the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
If today’s treadmill workout goes off without a hitch and Ron Artest feels fine Thursday morning, then he might practice with his teammates for the first time since falling down some stairs Christmas Day at home and suffering a concussion. If practice turns out fine and he feels fine Friday morning, then he might be able to play later that night against the Sacramento Kings. He sat out his third consecutive game Tuesday night, when the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors. Officially, Artest is said to be day-to-day. The Lakers did not practice today, but will return to their training facility Thursday morning.
Now they can rest. One day, then back to work. The Lakers won two of four games during their four-games-in-five-days marathon. They beat the Warriors tonight and needed double overtime to defeat the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. They lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday and the Phoenix Suns on Monday. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers tonight with a season-best 44 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. Pau Gasol added a season-high 27 points plus 12 rebounds.
Of Bryant, Golden State coach Don Nelson said: “That guy is amazing. You know, to be able to shoot like he did, with the finger problems that he has on his shooting hand, it’s amazing. Sixteen free throws for 16, take a game over like that, make jump shots. You know it’s not the same shot that he’s been shooting with that big ball of tape on his hand. That guy is amazing. You know, I love watching him play and it’s always a pleasure to coach against him.”
Playing their third consecutive game without Ron Artest, the Lakers gave up a season-high 60 points in the first half to the Warriors tonight at Staples Center. Golden State shot a sizzling 55.6 percent in the half (25 of 45). Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 13 points. Kobe Bryant had 17 points and Pau Gasol added 16 for the Lakers, who were playing for the fourth time in five days. The Warriors were coming off wins Monday over the Boston Celtics and Saturday over the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers lost Monday at Phoenix.
PHOENIX — The Lakers didn’t play the right kind of defense tonight against the Phoenix Suns. In fact, they didn’t play any kind of defense at all while giving up a season-high 118 points. Their previous high was 110 in a Nov. 1 win over the Atlanta Hawks. They knew what they did wrong, but they were helpless when it came to helping themselves.
Andrew Bynum put it best when he said, “”It’s all our fault. Defensively, everybody was doing something different. We weren’t connected. … It was just terrible. … We went over what we were supposed to do in shootaround. It just didn’t work.”
Said Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “They got all the things they do, the way they wanted to get it done with (Steve) Nash and (Amare) Stoudemire. … We got confused out there. … Very irritating, very irritating.”
Said Kobe Bryant: “It was just execution. We just beat the (mess) out of them the first two times (earlier this season), and they returned the favor. It’s about execution and they executed extremely well and we didn’t defensively, and that was the difference.”
PHOENIX — The Lakers gave up a season-high in points tonight as the Suns ran them ragged in the second half. Phoenix’s bench outscored the Lakers’ backups, 52-31. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points on 14-for-26 shooting. Andrew Bynum added 14 points. Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 26 points. Jared Dudley had 19.
PHOENIX — Kobe Bryant got smacked on his broken right index finger 6 1/2 minutes into tonight’s game. Lamar Odom sprained the index and middle fingers on his right hand in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The Lakers also started the game by shooting 28.6 percent (6 for 21). So, how come they trailed by only six by halftime? Bryant recovered from a 1-for-6 start and scored 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Andrew Bynum added 10 points and seven rebounds and Pau Gasol had nine points. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 15 points.
PHOENIX — Ron Artest continued to show improvement today after suffering a concussion in an accident at his home Friday. He saw a neurologist again today, but was not cleared to rejoin the team. The Lakers will play the Phoenix Suns tonight. Artest will sit out for the second consecutive game. He told the team he was hurt when he fell down some stairs whiie carrying some boxes a few hours after the Lakers’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
PHOENIX — Ron Artest saw a neurologist again today and showed improvement, according to a Lakers spokeswoman. Artest will see the doctor again Monday, but he won’t rejoin the team until he’s cleared. He suffered a concussion Friday at home and did not accompany the team on its trip to Sacramento and Phoenix. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he hopes Artest will be cleared and can play Monday against the Suns.
Kobe Bryant said he plans to play against the Suns despite suffering a strained right elbow in the third quarter of the Lakers’ double-overtime victory Saturday against the Kings. He had 38 points, including two key 3-pointers in the second overtime. He said he has regained feeling in his arm, but has been careful not to knock it against anything or anyone.
SACRAMENTO — Kobe Bryant scored 38 points with a right pinky that needs surgery some day, a fractured right index finger that needs another month to heal and a strained right elbow that went numb at the most inopportune time tonight.
Bryant managed to overcome his ailments and the Sacramento Kings. He sank two key 3-pointers in double overtime as the Lakers went out and redeemed themselves after their lackluster loss Friday to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Pau Gasol added 24 points and 11 rebounds. Shannon Brown had 15 points in a reserve role and Lamar Odom had 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Said Brown of Bryant: We know every time he’s going to do something crazy that you’re not going to see on a daily basis on another team. It’s almost become, like, second nature. We knew he was hurting. We were waiting for him to start shooting again.”